The reference for locomotives and railcars
German Federal Railway class 218
Germany | 1968 | 411 produced
218 445 with a colorfully composed passenger train in May 1989 in Calw
218 445 with a colorfully composed passenger train in May 1989 in Calw
Werner & Hansjörg Brutzer

As the last and most frequently built member of the V 160 family, the class 218 was the most important mainline diesel locomotive on the Bundesbahn and remained a very important model on the DB until after the year 2000. Originally designated as the V 164, it received the more powerful MTU TB10 engine from the class 215 with 1,839 kW. Later series also received the 2,060 kW TB11 or the French Pielstick 16PA 4V 200 with 16 cylinders and 1,986 kW built under license.

The hydraulic transmission could be switched between two gears while stationary, which, with a maximum speed of 100 and 140 km/h, allowed both high tractive forces for freight trains and high speeds for passenger trains. In the period up to the unification of the Bundesbahn and the Reichsbahn, they were used on non-electrified routes, sometimes double-headed, in front of almost all types of trains and, thanks to their push-pull train control, also enabled efficient use in local transport. Eventually, the Soviet class 232 locomotives took over many of their duties and supplanted them from many trains. They were also used on routes in front of passenger trains, where they could take advantage of their slightly higher speed. There were also conversions that were 160 km/h fast. Above all, these are still used to some extent today as towing locomotives for broken-down ICEs, for which they were given automatic couplings and always run in double traction.

Two traffic red 218s in June 2014 in front of the Sylt shuttle
Two traffic red 218s in June 2014 in front of the Sylt shuttle

In the meantime, their number has shrunk, but now all have either the TB11 engine with optimizations in the area of exhaust and noise insulation or have been converted to the modern MTU 16V 4000. In October 2018, a total of 126 of 399 units were still in use, half of which were used by the DB AG and half by private operators, which are gradually disappearing. In many places, the 218 was replaced by DMUs or the new genset class 245.

VariantMTU TB10MTU TB11Pielstickre-engined MTU 4000
Built1968, 1971-1979
ManufacturerKrupp, Henschel, Krauss-Maffei, MaK
Axle configB-B 
Gauge4 ft 8 1/2 in (Standard gauge)
Dimensions and Weights
Length53 ft 9 11/16 in
Wheelbase46 ft 7 1/16 in
Fixed wheelbase9 ft 2 1/4 in
Service weight176,370 lbs
Adhesive weight176,370 lbs
Axle load44,092 lbs
Power sourcediesel-hydraulic
Top speed87 mph
Starting effort52,830 lbf
EngineMTU 12V 956 TB10MTU 12V 956 TB11Pielstick 16PA 4V 200MTU 16 V 4000 R40/R41
Engine typeV12 dieselV16 diesel
Fuel845 us gal (diesel)
Engine output2,466 hp (1,839 kW)2,763 hp (2,060 kW)2,663 hp (1,986 kW)2,682 hp (2,000 kW)
Power Plant
Calculated Values
diesel locomotive
last changed: 04/2022

We use cookies to save the following settings:

  • selected navigation structure
  • selected language
  • preferred units
  • spelling of railway company names

If you refuse the use of cookies, the settings will only be retained for the current session and will be reset to the default values the next time you visit the site.

Display of units

Here you can set the desired unit system for the technical data.

  • Metric: Lengths in meters, weights in tonnes, and volumes in cubic meters
  • Imperial (UK): Lengths in feet/inches, weights in long tons and volumes in imperial gallons
  • Imperial (US): Lengths in feet/inches, weights in pounds, and volumes in US gallons
  • Individual: Depends on the country of origin of each locomotive
Operator names

Here you can set the display of railway company names.

  • Short: Abbreviation or short form of the name
  • Standard: commonly used name, partially translated to English
  • Complete: full name in local language